Doesn't it seem like we spend copious amounts of time and energy trying to avoid pain and/or gain pleasure? In fact, for many of us our days are smudged together in this "lifestyle". Avoid Pain. Seek Pleasure. At ANY cost. Repeat next day.
Seems reasonable at first glance. After all, we are at the top of the food chain. We earned this king of the hill status. When you think about it, man has no natural predators (except man). We have a pretty good gig here on this rock. Opposable thumbs? Check. Clean water. Check. Lots of cheap, highly processed, readily available food? Check. Ability to communicate with almost anyone, instantly? Check. Freedom. You bet. Eight Hundred TV channels available 24 hours a day (and still nothing on)? I've got the DirecTV bill to prove it. Toys, gadgets, luxuries, conveniences blah blah blah.
Living the good life.
Sounds pretty good huh? Well it is, at first glance. And don't get me wrong, i like nice things. I like my comfy couch and big screen TV. I really do. I am not coming at you as some crazy tree hugging hippie. No Amish roots in this family tree. I'm just bringing a swift dose of common sense because we have numbed ourselves to the point we are as soft as a grape. Avoiding pushing out of our comfort zone. This cushy, numbed down existence is NOT helping us but it's actually hurting us. Read on and I will explain how it affects how we feel and what you can do about it.
"Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit." Vince Lombardi
Lets start with health. What we eat. With all that readily available crap food, it is no secret America is fast becoming the fattest bunch of slobs on earth. One in four kids today will develop diabetes, many before they turn 18! Our Military has said the epidemic of obesity is the greatest threat to our National Security. What does that say about us as a culture? Maybe we have had it so good for so long we have gotten a little soft. That softness is not good for our souls. Not good for how we feel day to day. We need to achieve. We need to hunt. we need to experience little successes in our days. It balances us out. We need to take chances.
Conversely, we seem offended whenever life deals us a curve ball. AS IF! I'm here to tell you problems are a sign you are alive. The only people with no problems are in the graveyard, taking a dirt nap. If we see these problems just like a another hurdle on the track of life, we can then effortlessly jump right over them and focus on winning the race. Instead of tripping and falling down on that hurdle and ending up on Tosh.O.
"Passion is the genesis of genius"- Anthony Robbins
What are you passionate about? Better yet, what could you get passionate about? Your Body? Your relationship? How 'bout your bankroll? if you bankroll has been on injured reserve for too long, this may be you!
Hasn't all greatness been achieved through some kind of great struggle or massive feat? Isn't the magnitude of the hero defined by the size of the enemy conquered? David vs Goliath. God vs El Diablo. The 1980 US Hockey team vs the Soviets. The US Revolution. Apollo 13. Christopher Columbus. It makes for a hell of a story when an underdog defeats the big bad guy. It stirs the soul. Generates passion. Inspires imagination. Its the same way in our personal lives.
Let me be clear, you don't have to find a cure for cancer, earn a gold medal or start a revolution. Just get psyched to tackle those things that have been dogging you for years. Get uncomfortable. Change your Story. Stop making excuses.
Once if you start accomplishing things, pushing out of your comfort zone, you life will change. I'm talking about getting just a little bit uncomfortable. And then reaping what you sow. Generate some momentum. Start slow and see where it takes you. Or, go shock and awe, break out of your patterns and make it happen right now! its up to you. It's your life.
"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious." Vince Lombardi
Notice he said "any man"? That means everyone.
That leads me to believe I have felt the best when I have some momentum. When I am in "the zone". When I have created or achieved or served others. When I have given my best.
Doesn't it feel good when you accomplish something? Against all odds? Finally quit smoking. Actually show up early for an appointment. Stick with the gym for an entire year and everyone notices. Beat your personal best. Pay off your car. Finish that book or CD series on your shelf. Help your child win first place on their science project. These are just a few examples. You get my point.
From my perspective graduating basic training in Ft. Benning, Georgia in 14 weeks was a bigger accomplishment than graduating public school in 12 years. It was harder. A LOT harder. Some didn't make it. I did.
But that sense of accomplishment made all the difference.
My Drill Sergeants were real hard asses. No joke. But I would have never pushed myself out of my soft, safe, comfort zone like they did. It made me the soldier I was and the man I am today. Same with my football coach. Same with that teacher who pushed me in High School.
"Safe is Death." It was a championship winning motto for the 2004 Tampa Bay lightning. Yes, that's right, the Stanley Cup got a tan that year as the Lightning won it all and their mantra set the tone for their play all season. It affected their Strategy (going all out. leaving it all on the ice). Their Story if we play it safe, we don't make history). Their State (how would you carry yourself, think and act knowing this was your mentality)?
Sticking with a hockey analogy, did you see the movie "Miracle" with Kurt Russel? Great movie! In dramatic Disney fashion coach Herb Brooks, Played by Russel, forged a bunch of young kids into a team that went on to beat the greatest hockey machine in modern history, the U.S.S.R. True story. Those kids went through so much pain you felt sorry for them. Really. But they achieved something few ever will. Excellence. Through their sacrifice they lifted an entire nation-not just hockey fans. Do you think looking back, 30 years later, those kids would say, "maybe we shouldn't have trained so hard?" No way. They loved their coach for how he pushed them out of their comfort zone. He got them to achieve collectively what they never could individually.
Vince Lombardi was the same way.
"Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It's a state of mind-you could call it character in action." Vince Lombardi
"I'm on the practice field running two-a-days, so I don't drop the ball when its thrown my way" Jay Z ("Off That" Blueprint III)
When was the last time you ran two-a days so you didn't drop the ball in your relationship? At your job? In the Gym?
"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish," Steve Jobs. (2005 Stanford Commencement Address)
Whats the opposite of hungry? Full. Satiated. Bloated. Fat. Lazy.
Lets get a little more personal. When I started my last company everyone said we wouldn't make it. We would fail in spectacular fashion and come crawling back begging for our jobs. That pissed me off. Made me hungry. To this day I see that fueled my hunger through the hard times to make it succeed. And succeed we did. For about eight years.
If we have no pressure how do we grow? And everything in life is either growing or dieing. That's a fact, Jack.
How do you grow big muscles in the gym without pushing past you comfort zone? You don't. Want to improve any area of your life or personality you must confront it, change your strategy and then DO it. A lot. Then it seems second nature. Almost effortless to observers. Its called mastery. If you want to master any area of your life it WILL NOT HAPPEN IF YOU STAY IN YOUR NICE, SAFE COMFORT ZONE. It just won't.
And so that you stay consistent, get a coach or an accountability buddy.
Think Cirque De Sole just puts an ad in the paper and then fires some schmucks off the trapeze? Hardly. I guarantee they practice those routines thousands of times so that it is pure muscle memory. Lots of pushing out of their comfort zone. That's how they nail it night after night. The had to get uncomfortable to get that good. So do we.
Michael Jordan lost to the "Bad Boy" Pistons when he first came in the league, and it pissed him off to no end. Big Time. But he didn't sulk or cry in his corn flakes. He worked twice as hard in the off season.He turned that pain into fuel. Rocket Fuel. And that pain created a legacy that defined his existence. One of the greatest champions of all time. Can you believe he was cut by his high school coach? One of the greatest champions of all time.
What I am suggesting is that it takes a great amount of pressure to turn coal into a diamond. If you have a nice easy life with everything handed to you it may seem a blessing but really be a curse. Look around for examples in your world. Ever heard of those rich spoiled kids who are given everything then turn out to be monsters?
Back to a sense of accomplishment and what it means to our daily lives.
We feel better about ourselves if we keep our word, stick to the plan and accomplish that goal- even if it becomes uncomfortable. Maybe that self-discipline is what we crave. What we need.
Start small. Its how well you do the little things that really matter.
Ever heard how Oprah Winfrey grew up? Her Childhood? It was not pretty. I am not going to go into detail, you can Google it. But look what she parlayed that into. She has touched a lot of lives in a positive fashion. A lot of inspirational people overcame great challenges to become who they are today.
Pain is eventual, suffering is optional.
I'm not saying you had to have a tough childhood or experience poverty to be great or even to feel a certain way. Clearly history is full of people who overcame massive difficulties and parlayed that into greatness. They turned their pain into fuel. Fuel to achieve. To overcome. To prove doubters wrong. To touch lives. To help others. So can you.
Did Bill gates have a nice life growing up? Did he face adversity and get pushed out of his comfort zone? I don't know, but I am sure we all have our personal cross to bear and no one can know what it was like to walk in your shoes.
When we can take adversity, use it to change our "Story", that's power. You know that story we tell anyone who will listen, about why things are the way they are. We consciously or unconsciously write that story. We say it enough that we get hard-wired to believe it and do it. Self fulfilling prophecy.
The only thing keeping you from the life you deserve is the story you keep telling your self. Change your story, change your life!
"I want to work out but I don't have time for the gym." That's a story.
"I want to get in shape but money is tight. I can't afford a gym membership." Another Story. Maybe. Maybe if you quit smoking you could use that money for a gym membership? How many times you spend 40 bucks going out with some friends? I know I do all the time.
With that being said, why not change your story to, "I never miss a chance to work out. Its my time for me and its as important as eating and sleeping and hugging my kids"
That's a story too. Which story would make you feel better? it might be a little uncomfortable at first but that's OK.
Remember that company I started? Well, eventually the money dried up and we lost that multimillion dollar company that I had co-founded. I lost a lot of "stuff". I also lost a lot of fake friends too. Man, when the money dried up they scattered like roaches when the lights come on! But I also gained a lot of time to reflect. I realized who my true friends were. I realized I ran from pain for a long time, and I was not any better for that. I was worse. I forgot how hard I had worked to get here and I was not appreciative of my blessings. I had developed bad habits. Now, I see that pain is a sign we are alive. Who am i to try and insulate my life in excuses and self sabotage just to avoid any semblance of pain? Without the rain we can't have the rainbow, my friends.
If we rig our lives to make it really safe, and comfortable and easy...can we really achieve happiness? Will we feel fulfilled by just trying to make it to the next day. Playing it safe. I think not. I think we need to constantly push out of our comfort zone to grow those muscles; physical & emotional muscles.
I can NOT go to the gym, or meditate in the AM, or work on the house. Or write in my blog. Its easier, and no one is going to make me (unless one of my Drill Sergeants becomes my accountability buddy). But it also will gnaw at me because I know that I am capable of so much more. Then I have to do something to distract myself from that gnawing feeling that I am being a shitbag. Instead, I can push myself out of my comfort zone, and feel better after.
Ever come home from a workout and felt tired? Exhausted? Bushed? Yes, but you also FELT great! You gave yourself permission to feel great! Your hard wired to feel great after accomplishment.
I fell off my game because i got really comfortable. Felt safe. Lost my hunger. My edge. My focus. Now i want it back. I had everything I could want at the drop of a hat and what did that get me? Apathy. Unhappiness. Numbness. Lethargy.
Less "stuff". That was good. More contribution. Good. Get up early and killing it in the gym. Boom! Turn off the idiot box and write a letter to a long-lost friend. Now we are talking. Head down crushing it is my new motto. Boy does that feel better than making yet another excuse.
"Everybody dies but not everybody lives," hmmmm.
So what can you do about this, right now?
Take action. Motion creates emotion. Get up and move dynamically. It sounds simple but it works. Knock something off your list. Start small so you have a sense of accomplishment. You will get momentum.
Get an accountability buddy. Someone you meet with once a week and tell them what your goals are. Then when you meet again they will be asking what you did to move towards YOUR goals. Its so simple its brilliant. Don't take my word for it. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and see what happens. See how you feel. Use you accountability buddy to keep you honest. Come up with a new Story. Your Story, State and Strategy will change. You will feel better. Find someone to help and mentor. Rededicate yourself to running 2-a-days in your work or better yet, your relationships.
Raise the bar. Find some personal discipline. If you don't have any personal discipline (better change that story) borrow some! Recommit to what you know you need to do. Stop eating crap. Get off the couch. Hit the library. Volunteer to help others. Meditate. Spend time taking care of yourself. Spend quality time with those that love you.
Why should you do this, because I am telling you to? NO! Who am I, but a guy with some observations. You should try this because what you were doing wasn't working. It will feel better to change your strategy! YOU will feel better. You will walk differently. You will talk differently. Think differently. A few small changes to get out of your comfort zone, combined with good strategy will translate into a different way of life. The life you deserve and everyone around you deserves too.
"Nothing feels as good as progress and NOTHING happens until something moves!" Mike Litman
Move. Motion creates emotion.
Time to Shine. Head Down Crushin' it!
Here's to Your Success!